How To Cook Pan Fried Cod The Healthy Way


Last Updated on April 5, 2021

From all cod fish recipes I know, this pan-fried cod might be the quickest clean eating dish. When briefly fried and served with a fresh salad or steamed vegetables, it becomes a tasty and light delicacy.

cod fish recipes

One of the most popular edible fish in the world

Most cod is sold particularly on Good Friday, when fish is traditionally eaten, especially in the Catholic regions of the world. The majority describes its taste as unique and particularly delicious. It is a mild fish that contains more firm “muscle meat” than other fish. That’s why it lends itself perfectly for the preparation in a skillet. Enjoy within a few minutes the tender white flakes of juicy cod, with nice and light flavor, that is healthy and exquisite.

Pan-seared versus pan-fried cod recipes

This recipe is very simple to do at home and it is the way cod and similar white fish are often cooked in restaurant kitchens. I admit I do it a bit different…The correct culinary terminology would probably be pan-seared cod as I’m searing the fish in little oil and not frying it in an oil bath. Besides of pan-searing you can of course also bake, steam or grill your fish fillet.

pan-fried cod recipe - close-up of pan fried cod fish with green salad  and tomatoes in the background

Less expensive and lean protein source

Fish is an excellent source of protein by nature and therefore enjoys a great deal of popularity in any meal constellation. Cod stands out, in this context, because it is cheaper than other types like e.g. salmon, but still provides protein of the highest quality. One kilogram of cod contains about 170 grams of protein.

With less than 1% fat, cod is also a great fish for weight management. In addition, trace elements and minerals are abundant. Especially in regard to fluorine, selenium and iodine cod is at the top of the list.

How to cook cod

Most fried cod recipes will call for oil with a high smoke point like canola oil which is usually processed and not clean. Others call for melted butter. I’m using for most of my clean eating recipes olive oil and I feel it works for this pan-seared recipe too. There are some other tricks to ensure some extra crispiness I’ll share with you below.

For this recipe it is important that you have either fresh cod fillets or you thawed your frozen fish in your fridge for at least 5-6 hours. You can use cod with skin or without. I’ve used the skinless version.


Pan Fried Cod Fish Recipe

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5 from 15 reviews

A delicious and affordable fish meal

  • Author: Gabi Rupp
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 7
  • Total Time: 12
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Shallow frying
  • Cuisine: German
  • Diet: Low Fat


  • 23 cod fillets
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • some pepper
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil


  1. Wash your fresh or thawed fillets under current cold water and dry them with a paper towel.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan. (The pan should be really hot)
  3. Mix flour with salt and pepper on a plate.
  4. Once the pan is almost hot, turn the cod in the flour mixture and tap the excess off. (It should be just a light dusting of flour!)
  5. Fry cod in hot oil at medium heat until golden – 2-4 minutes per side. (Resist the temptation to move it and turn it only one time to prevent fish from falling apart)


  • For a lean meal serve it with a large mixed salad or some steamed vegetables.


  • Serving Size: 2

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Cod Recipes – Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips to prevent cod falling apart:

  1. Add some sprinkles of lemon juice to the oil versus the end of the searing process.
  2. Don’t fry the fillets longer than 4 minutes on each side.
  3. As you might have noticed, I’m using white flour for this recipe that usually should be avoided in a “clean eating kitchen”. But as you might know, I’m not a 100% clean eating advocate but prefer instead the 80/20 approach. The flour mix is essential for keeping fish firm and crispy – it forms a protective coating. You could also use whole grain flour instead.

Best Kitchen Gear

For best searing results I recommend to use a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel skillet.

Fish on Fridays has a long family tradition

I’m used to eating fish meals on Fridays since my early childhood. Even nowadays we have seafood at the end of the workweek. Our favorite meal is a salmon dish but from time to time I cook simple, less expensive cod fish recipes.

I serve pan-fried cod mostly with a mayo-free German potato salad (see picture below) and/or cucumber salad. That way we enjoy a light meal that is even appropriate for weight management.

pan-fried cod fish fillets on a white plate with German potato salad and three tomato slices as garnish

Origin and buying tips

Cod lives across the North Atlantic, in the North and Baltic Seas and in the northern Pacific. It used to be one of the so-called breadfish because of its abundance. Today, most stocks are massively threatened by overfishing. It should therefore rarely be served, and according to the current Greenpeace recommendation, only if it originates from the North-East Atlantic or North-East Pacific.

How long does uncooked cod last in the fridge?

Cod should not be stored for too long at home. The special structure of the meat offers an ideal environment for bacteria. Therefore I highly recommended to prepare it as quickly as possible. Don’t store it in the fridge for more than 36 hours. You should also make sure that the fish is cooled during transport, from the point of purchase to your own home.

What to serve with pan-fried cod?

Pan-fried cod is delicious with a side of roasted potatoes, chunky mashed sweet potatoes, or braised greens.

Can I use frozen cod?

Because frozen fish is flash-frozen soon after the catch, the freshness and flavor are excellent. You can use frozen cod as long as it is thawed and treated properly.

What is your favorite recipe?

Now it’s your turn! What is your preferred cod recipe? Share it with us in the comment section below!

Clean Eating Fish Recipes: Important part of 52 Chef Habits

Did you know that simplifying your clean eating habits for weight management is a crucial part of my 52 Chef Habits Ecourse, featuring the best clean eating fish recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. Click here to learn more!


37 thoughts on “How To Cook Pan Fried Cod The Healthy Way”

  1. I cooked this last night and my picky family loved it! This was the best cod I’ve eaten. Thank you for an excellent recipe, and I hugely applaud the lemon juice.

    • Hey Sue,
      thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad that my recipe could impress even your “picky” family. I know how hard it is to please picky eaters…
      So make sure to keep the recipe at hand:)

    • Hey Mary, I’m glad that my recipe could inspire you. Wishing you and your daughter a tasty seafood dish. Although I eat mostly plant-based, fish for me is the rare exception – especially because of all the valuable Omega 3 fatty acids.

    • Thank you Michelle. As a minimalist, I love to keep things simple. Adding lemon to the oil is the little thing that makes or breaks a great seafood dish. Make sure to try it soon, you won’t regret it!

  2. Thank you for this delicious sounding & easy recipe. I was looking for a cod variation as I normally bake my cod. I salt & pepper the cod (this works with any white fish) place it in a pan with white wine & sometimes lemon slices, then I add a tiny dab of butter on top each piece. I bake it on 350 for appx 20 minutes (ovens vary in temperature). It’s a super easy & tasty way to bake cod but tonight I think I’ll try your method! Thanks again… happy eating 🙂

    • I love your easy oven baked cod recipe. Thank you for the inspiration, will give it soon a try. I think its even lower in fat and must taste delicious with the white wine base.

  3. Thank you for sharing! I used arrowroot powder in place of the flour and zested half an orange I had left from another recipe. It was delicious!

    • Thank you Chichi, I can relate to you. As I’m slowly transitioning into a whole foods plant based nutrition, for me it’s also getting harder to eat my fish on our traditional “Fish Friday”. At least this recipe makes it easier:)

  4. Our favorite cod recipe is first sautéing veggies of your choice in butter and white wine and as they begin to get tender, place the cod which has been salted and peppered on top of the veggies. Cover and let cod steam to perfection and serve over brown rice flavored with any spice you like. I like Malay mixed spice but any you like works well.


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